Music copyright

25 November 2019

Music Copyright Licences

Don’t get caught without your Music Copyright Licence


Every business, club, or organisation that plays music should be paying a music copyright licence fee.  This might include background music, hold music, or promotional videos, and it does include having the radio on.


In New Zealand it is very easy to make sure you have the right Music Copyright Licence in place.  The website has useful tools to help you find out what type of licence you need, and how much it will cost.  In most cases, businesses are looking at only a few hundred dollars a year.


This is how our great New Zealand musicians get paid their royalties.  When businesses pay their Music Licence Fee, the proceeds go to the artists who make the music.


The perils of not having the correct Music Copyright Licence in place were recently highlighted in the case of Australasian Performing Right Association Limited v JT Hi Fi Limited [2019] NZHC 2508.  As well as having to pay the arrears in licence fees of $2,123, the defendant was ordered to pay $15,000 additional damages, recognising the flagrancy of the infringement.


If your business plays music, you should have a Music Copyright Licence in place.  Check out the OneMusic website to find out what is appropriate.


Copyright law can be complicated.  For expert advice, please contact our IP specialist, Virginia Nichols.